Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van Carries Limo Appeal

Posted on August 4, 2010 by Mike Antich

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Daimler Vans USA has launched its fourth new Sprinter model - the Shuttle Van, a 16-passenger fuel-efficient vehicle well suited to limousine services, rental car companies, residential care providers, and community shuttles.

The Shuttle Van joins Sprinter's Cargo Van, Passenger Van, and Chassis Cab models. Its standard equipment includes an electrically operated split-entry door and step to make it easy on passengers with luggage. Air suspension ensures automatic vehicle leveling, regardless of load.

Mercedes-Benz showcased its 2010 Sprinter van lineup during a presentation for journalists in April at its Daimler Vans Manufacturing facility in Ladson, S.C.

Daimler took back the distribution, servicing, and marketing of the Sprinter from Dodge on Jan. 1. The Sprinter was rebadged as a Mercedes and continued to be badged as a Freightliner. A new division, Daimler Vans USA, was formed to oversee the sales and marketing of the Sprinter. Based in Montvale, N.J., Daimler Vans USA, LLC is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz USA. Claus Tritt, general manager of Daimler Vans USA, leads the division.

Sprinter full of features

Since its introduction in Europe in 1995, more than one million Sprinter vans have been sold worldwide and 130,000 in the U.S. The largest U.S. fleet customer is FedEx, which uses 6,000 Sprinter models daily. The Sprinter is offered in three vehicle lengths, two wheelbases, and three GVWRs.

All Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Sprinters are powered by a 3.0L V-6 BlueTEC turbodiesel that gets 30% better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline engine. Daimler no longer offers a gasoline-engine option in the U.S. due to weak demand, Tritt said. The Sprinter van meets 2010 emissions standards with a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system that uses diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) aftertreatment. The Passenger Van and Cargo version are equipped with a 4.9-gallon DEF tank, while the Chassis Cab and Cutaway versions have a 5.8-gallon tank.

All Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Sprinters come with 5-speed automatic transmissions, four-wheel disc brakes, and independent strut suspension with coil springs in front, and a solid axle with leaf springs at the rear. Several choices of springs, shock absorbers, and stabilizer bars provide just the right suspension for each version of the Sprinter van.

Best-in-class honors for the Sprinter include a standing interior height of 6-feet 4-inches, which makes it a mobile workshop, and a tight turning radius of 54.6 feet.

Later this summer, Mercedes-Benz will introduce an extended limited warranty that offers one- and two-year/up to 100,000-mile warranty options with no deductibles. To qualify, the Sprinter must be under the original, new-vehicle warranty period.

The lifecycle of the current generation Sprinter will be until 2016. "Between now and then, the Sprinter will receive a facelift, along with additional equipment," Tritt says. "It is a commercial vehicle, and we will add options. There are 260 standalone options available for the Sprinter."

Key advantages of the Sprinter are its large door openings, interior height, vehicle quality, driver acceptability, fuel economy, and fuel-efficient diesel engine, fleet managers say.

Concerns have focused on long order-to-delivery time for the vehicle, which is produced in Germany, parts availability, and the dealer network. Some prior Dodge dealers were unable to work on the Sprinter due to height restrictions in their maintenance bays and had a limited number of mechanics certified to service the Sprinter, which resulted in longer downtime.

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